Sunday, December 30, 2012

Song: All Glory Be to Christ

Auld Lang Syne is one of my favorite melodies, and King's Kaleidoscope recently released a version with updated lyrics called All Glory Be to Christ. It is beautifully done. Enjoy!

Should nothing of our efforts stand
No legacy survive
Unless the Lord does raise the house
In vain its builders strive

To you who boast tomorrow's gain
Tell me what is your life
A mist that vanishes at dawn
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing
All glory be to Christ!

His will be done
His kingdom come
On earth as is above
Who is Himself our daily bread
Praise Him the Lord of love

Let living water satisfy
The thirsty without price
We'll take a cup of kindness yet
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing
All glory be to Christ!

When on the day the great I Am
The faithful and the true
The Lamb who was for sinners slain
Is making all things new

Behold our God shall live with us
And be our steadfast light
And we shall ere his people be
All glory be to Christ!

All glory be to Christ our king!
All glory be to Christ!
His rule and reign we'll ever sing
All glory be to Christ!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

  "Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days."
(Luke 1:68-75 ESV) 

There is no better reason to celebrate Christmas. May you have a blessed day as you remember the birth of our precious Savior!

Sunday, December 23, 2012

We Have Seen a Great Light

Sorry it has been a quiet week. Life has taken over and there has been little time to blog. I thought I would share something I wrote a few years ago about Christmas, and what the Lord was doing in my heart. I have gone through a similar process this year, so it feels very appropriate.

Even taking into account that it's the Christmas season and all, I've been thinking about Christmas a lot lately. Somehow this year, the story that I've heard a thousand times has taken on new meaning as I've been reflecting. The story that I've glossed over time and time again has suddenly grasped all of my attention.

Will we ever understand the beauty of what happened more than two thousand years ago? Will we ever truly understand its power, and how absolutely unbelievable it is?

All too often, I think, we let the story we've heard all our lives lose its mystery...its wonder. We cease to stand in awe at what truly is the beginning of the most wonderful thing that has ever happened.

Will we ever understand the mystery of God became man?

Think about what our God chose to do--to take upon Himself. He left a place of splendor and wonder to be born among cattle. I know the disdain in which I would look upon living in a stable. I know how I would feel if I had to go from my life to a place where no one knew and recognized me for who I really was. But God, in Christ Jesus, gave it all. He left the most perfect and beautiful place that could ever exist to come down to a world broken and twisted by sin and filth. He left a place where He was given all the glory He truly deserved to come to a world where "He was despised and rejected by men."

And He did it for you. For me. That we might come to Him.

Will we ever understand the sacrifice He made?

He gave up everything. How many kings have given up everything for you? How many men have left their homes for your salvation? If your life is anything like mine, you can't name any earthly person who has done that.

But our God did.

Will we ever understand how filthy and despicable we are without His sacrifice?

We have broken God's law. We are fallen, rebels against a most gracious God. We foolishly choose our own path over and over again, ignoring the consequences.

Will we ever understand why God loves us in spite of ourselves?

Yet in our brokenness and dirt and pain, the God of the universe, rather than pouring out His wrath upon us as we deserve, chose to come in the form of a man. To live in our dirt. To feel our pain. To bear our punishment. And all so that broken rebels might have life in His name.

And it all started here, in a stable in Bethlehem, where the Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled in a tiny baby who would one day prove that our God is indeed a God who saves.

It is the most wondrous story ever told! We were living in the land of the shadow of death. We deserved nothing but wrath from God, and yet He chose to love us anyway, enough to send a substitute for us. 

It's captivating. Riveting. Enthralling.

This Christmas, let's choose to expectantly anticipate what is the beginning of the most beautiful story that ever has been and ever will be told. Let's be purposeful in seeking the One who gave Himself that we might have life to the full.

"The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined." - Is. 9:2

Saturday, December 15, 2012

I Heard the Bells

I was reminded of this poem turned hymn from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow while I was reading more stories from the shooting in Connecticut. I don't understand; I don't try to. But like Russell Moore, I am reminded that Christmas was an act of war agains the evil one, and we know who wins. Praise God. 

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”

Weekend Links 12/15

Believing the Worst of Those Who Love Me the Most - Thought provoking article from Tim Challies. "In a moment I can throw out all those years of love and sacrifice and assume that she is now opposed to me, looking out for her interests instead of mine, interested in harming me rather than helping me. In a moment I throw away all these evidences of her love and behave as if she hates me."

Broken, Yet Intricately Woven - Emily Armstrong was just diagnosed with Epilepsy. Read about how she responded to this news with beautiful faith.

The Tension of 'God is Good' and 'It Shouldn't Be This Way' - From Barnabas Piper and incredibly appropriate considering the shootings in Connecticut. "The natural, gut reaction to news like this is visceral. It is a mix of 'Why?' and 'This shouldn't have happened!' But for many of us, myself included, theology often catches up to instinct and says 'Yeah, but God is sovereign' as if this is more true than out first reaction. This theological realization stands in direct opposition to the emotional response. Are we sit back and think that all is ok, then?"

Silent Night, Peaceful Day - My all-time favorite Christmas story (other than the real one of Jesus, of course) is found in a fictional book called The Singing Tree, by Kate Seredy, set during WWI. Turns out that something very similar actually happened. Enjoy!

School Shootings and Spiritual Warfare - A comforting response from Russell Moore. "Let’s grieve for the innocent. Let’s demand justice for the guilty. And let’s rage against the Reptile behind it all. As we do so, let’s remember that Bethlehem was an act of war. Let’s remember that the One born there is a prince of peace who will crush the skull of the ancient murderer of Eden."

Friday, December 14, 2012

No Words

There aren't always words to describe the horrors that result from human depravity. Lives have been forever altered today. There are parents whose arms will never hold their babies again, and children who witnessed horrors that no child should ever have to see.

Sometimes the consequences of sin are seen all too clearly. 

Barnabas Piper blogged earlier this week about the tension between knowing that God is good and knowing that life wasn't meant to be this way. It is a post that now seems all too appropriate considering the circumstances of the morning. The conclusion that he comes to is this:
See, it’s not supposed to be this way. Over all this brokenness is a God, a good God, who is in charge of all things including life and death. And in his sovereignty things happen that shouldn't happen. There isn't any riddling this out in way that works for human minds...A tension exists, polar truths creating a present reality. God is good. It shouldn't be this way. God is sovereign. Bad things happen.
How do you respond knowing that the shooting absolutely should not have happened? Children should not be shot. Men should not kill. And yet both happened. And God is still good. God is still sovereign. How do you reconcile those truths?

I don't think you can, at least not here on this earth.

Ultimately, I think the only place to turn in a broken world is where Job went when he lost everything: the foot of the throne. The only place where true comfort is found is in seeing God. It is in crying, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name the name of the Lord," not because you understand, but because you know the God that you serve.

It is learning to say, "Amen," because you know the God who used the greatest evil committed at the cross of Christ to redeem His enemies for His good purposes.

It is a beautiful and horrifying tension, especially on days like today. It is a desperate place to be. But there is comfort here, where grief flows heavily and yet peace still reigns.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Death of Death

"Do you dread sin? He has nailed it to His cross. Do you fear death? He has been the death of death...Whatever foes there may be before the Christian, they are all overcome. There are lions, but their teeth are broken; There are serpents, but their fangs are extracted...God has taken away in the person of Christ all the power that anything can have to hurt us...They are beaten, they are vanquished; all you have to do is share the plunder." - Charles Spurgeon

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sovereignty in the Small Things

(This is my 100th post! So exciting.)

Tonight, I missed a missions committee meeting. I have been so blessed to serve on missions committee over the past year. It is an eclectic group of people who are of one mind, desiring to see the gospel of Christ proclaimed to all people. I never fail to leave feeling encouraged, convicted and reminded of what is most important. It really is one of my favorite nights each month. We meet on a Tuesday...most of the time. This month, though, we met on Monday. And unfortunately, I forgot.

It seems like a silly thing, but I was (am, actually) really disappointed. I have been looking forward to our meeting all week, and by time I realized what had happened, the meeting was almost over. There was a lot we were supposed to discuss, and a lot I was hoping to process through with people I trust on the subject of missions. But I missed it. And our next meeting isn't until January.

It's funny how I have a much harder time trusting the sovereignty and good purposes of God in the small moments of life than in the big things. I know the Lord's goodness, and in the big things, I have no choice but to trust Him to work all things for His glory and my good. If I don't trust Him, there would be no hope. But in the small things, it is tempting to ignore His sovereignty. God is using something as simple as a missed missions committee meeting for His purposes and my sanctification.

It's just a missions committee meeting. As much as I love them, it isn't the end of the world. And it was a revealing reminder of how quickly I turn to discontentment and frustration. God is good. And He is sovereign, over all things, even the small things. And that calls for praise and joy in all things.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weekend Links 12/8

Sorrowful Yet Always Rejoicing - Beautiful testimony. "So though I have experienced various trials, my hope is in Christ. I rejoice during these trials in my living hope, knowing that nothing — no great trial, no pain or sorrow, and noone — shall separate me from the love of God."

Why Don't We Call It a Royal Fetus? - Insightful. "What is the difference between this 'royal baby' and the unborn child in the womb of a mother in the waiting room of an abortion clinic? There’s no intrinsic difference in terms of their humanity. The only difference is that one is wanted and the other is not."

The Counter-Intuitive Calvin - Great article from Tim Keller that made me want to read Calvin's if I can only find a copy that I don't have to pay for...

The Dangers of Being Crazy Busy - First part in a series from Kevin DeYoung. I have seen the affects of this in my own life. "When we are crazy busy we put our souls at risk. The challenge is not merely to make a few bad habits go away. The challenge is not to let our spiritual lives slip away. The dangers are serious, and they are growing. And few of us are as safe as we seem."

Friday, December 7, 2012

Five Things Friday

1. You know what one of my favorite moments is? When it's really cold outside and you climb inside your car that's toasty warm from the sun. One of life's small joys.

2. I am officially (Lord-willing, of course) returning to Thailand in May of 2013! I am so excited to see what the Lord is going to do.

3. Two weeks of vacation is not very much. This has definitely been the biggest shocker as I have transitioned into adult life. Not my favorite part of working full-time, let me tell you that!

4. The Hobbit (well part 1) comes out this Thursday night! That has been one of my favorite books for a long time, and I am very much looking forward to seeing the movies.

5. I have been reading through some of John Piper's short biographies of different missionaries and defenders of the faith, and I was reminded again this week of how thankful I am that the Lord preserved the testimonies of His saints to encourage us.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Redeeming the Time

Sorry for the quiet week. There have just been other activities that have taken precedent over blogging this week, and I'm quite alright with that arrangement.

After reading this article from Desiring God last week about making the most of my commute, I decided to work on memorizing some of 1 Peter 1 while I was driving to and from work each day. Memorization has always been an activity that has blessed me greatly, but I am terrible at setting aside focused time to actually do it. So I loaded an audio version of 1 Peter 1 onto my iPod and began Monday morning.

Well, it turns out that 40 minutes goes a long way toward memorization! I have really been missing out on valuable time each day. On top of that, it has been so encouraging to spend that much time reflecting on the Word of God. It made me wonder what other time I have been missing.

There are so many things I want to do - read more books, spend more time building relationships with people, pray more, run more, craft more...the list goes on. But now that I am working full time, for the first time in my life I don't feel like I have enough time to accomplish everything. And really, I probably don't. I only have a certain number of hours that aren't taken up with work and sleep. However, this week has made me realize that I probably have more time available than I think I do.

I have seen fruit this week from just redeeming the time spent in my commute. What would happen if I began to redeem the time in the morning while I get ready for my day? Or the time that I walk with co-workers on my lunch break? Or the time spent cooking dinner? It's not that those activities are bad - they aren't. Actually, most of them are necessary and beneficial. But my desire shouldn't be to just avoid sin as I live, but to make the best possible use of my time. Is my time spent cooking dinner only spent cooking dinner, or am I using that time to love my roommates by listening and talking with them while I cook dinner?

Don't get me wrong - I believe that God can be glorified in all of our living; our activities don't have to be "spiritual" in order to honor Him. But I also don't want to miss out on opportunities to make the most of the time that He has given to me.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Weekend Links 12/2

28,497 Reasons to Be Thankful - Convicting reminder of the grace that truly is ours.

Enjoying Trophies of God's Grace - John Piper's letter to his congregation as he celebrate his last Advent season with them as senior pastor. "Memory has a way of simplifying things. It strips away a few million details that at the time seemed major, and it leaves only the big outlines. Of course, God was in those details. It was he and not I who wove them into the tapestry that I now look back on with wonder. I can’t see the threads any more. A few thousand of them are recorded in my journal, if I choose to look at them. But mainly I simply marvel at the tapestry God has woven."

Don't Undersell Your Commute - "They yearned for more of him. They saw him because they sought him — and they sought him in the simplest routines that make up life . . . when they had just a few minutes by themselves amid their daily responsibilities."

10 Common Mistakes in Difficult Relationships - Ouch. This one hit home.

Why You Should Consider a Social Media Fast - A really balanced, helpful view from Kevin DeYoung.